On her 18th birthday Carolina Lovel learned that she was adopted and was given a letter written by her birth mother in an unknown language. After years of research she travels to Italy on a mission to find the truth about her past. Carolina is accompanied by three extremely gifted but mischievous students the FIGs from Wood Rose Orphanage and Academy for Young Women. In an effort to help their favorite teacher, the FIGs will have to use their special abilities to decipher the Voynich Manuscript, the most mysterious document in the world, and the one thing that is strangely similar to what Carolina was given. Their search will take them into the mystical world of gypsy tradition and magic, more exciting and dangerous than any of them could have imagined.
Carolina’s desire to learn about her biological parents and the mysterious gift she received from them is at the heart of this well-written story. Caroline is aided in her quest by her super-intelligent students, whose pranks add an element of humor. Despite their jovial camaraderie, the girls are all business when it comes to working together to help Caroline, each lending a unique talent to the tasks at hand.
But Carolina is not the only one who seeks answers. Her birth mother, Lyuba, never got over the loss of her child and longs to find out what became of her daughter. As a reader, my heart went out to his good-hearted mother whose child was taken from her against her will. The author did a great job creating distinct and well developed characters that each lend a different talent or perspective to the story.
As part of Carolina’s research on the Voynich Manuscript, she and the girls travel from North Carolina to a picturesque Italian village of Frascati. During their stay there, new information comes to light and the story takes a few unexpected turns along the way to its resolution. The author’s portrayal of the nearby gypsy camp was vivid and informative, highlighting the tribal nature of the gypsy society and gypsy folklore. I credit the author with portraying the gypsies in a sympathetic light, and touching on stereotypes and the issue of forced adoption of gypsy children. After finishing the book, I found myself Googling to find more information about related topics.
I really enjoyed this book. The story was both memorable and thought-provoking. I could easily see YA readers enjoying this book, which makes a great read for adults of any age as well.
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.
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About the Author
Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. In addition to her own writing, she is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency, established in 1995, representing authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan. In 2014 Barbara became a partner in Strategic Media Books Publishing, an independent publishing house that specializes in true crime and other cutting-edge adult nonfiction.
Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with her husband and three dogs who adopted her: Benton, a hound-mix, Fitz, a miniature dachshund, and Gert, a Jack Russel terrier of sorts.
Connect with the author: Website